Go Far East Young Man!

Something Americans are not all that good at is languages, especially Asian languages.  But I suspect there are vast untapped riches in many Asian countries which could use a lot of products made in the US, products that take advantage of the technologies we have developed, and languages and cultures are major hurdles that need to be overcome.  I realize that many US companies have Asian branches that are there for manufacturing, but what have we done to develop the internal markets of these countries?  Perhaps we need a different approach that would allow us to more aggressively market there.   Or am I missing something that precludes this?
Do we need a different kind of company to address this ‘international marketing’ problem, one that places a premium on people developing skills that have before languished in universities, and not been connected strongly enough to the business world?

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Two Relationships

Let’s say you are in one of two relationships.  You can say for yourself what kind these are: romantic, familial, or what have you.  But let’s also assume that, for other reasons, you can’t easily disentangle the bonding, so that leaving it would have  a steep personal cost to you.  OK, here we go.

In the first relationship, something feel very strongly is that the other person is committed to you.  They show you this in a hundred ways.  They cheer you up when your down, they’ll do something that you both know needs doing….without prompting.  They “get” you;  they know when you need a kick in the butt or a pat on the back, even when you don’t!  They see you at your worst and smile benignly.  “I love you” need not be spoken; that’s in their glance or their hands. It’s not like they don’t have their own interests different from yours;  they get energy from more than you.  But their first and second impulses are to want to share what they love with you because they want you to love it like they do!  And how happy they become because your happy!  You sort of become 3 people; “you”,”them” and “you and them”, it’s own entity.

And how do you deal with each other when things get rough?  ‘Shared sacrifice’ is just the start of it, right?  You give up things, you work harder, you put yourself in hazardous positions (financially or emotionally, amongst others) because….it’s about that other person first, second, third.  If it’s truly hazardous for them (an illness say) and there’s nothing you can do….you suffer far, far more than if it were just yourself.  The important thing is that, come fair weather or foul….you will both prevail, and prevail together!  Everything in life becomes better….because there is another person to share the joy of life with.

Now let’s move on to the second relationship.  You’re constantly “negotiating” things, time, money, friends.  That other person learns you like in the first relationship, but here they do what they need to get you to do what they want!  A lie that gets them what they want is better than a truth that does not.  Bullying, sweet talking, “rational argument” (where what they want is “rational” and what you want is….) all of this is the norm for their behavior.   There’s a lot of ‘zero sum’ thinking in this couple, and even if they get along, they’re never really happy.  And when things get tough here?  The first, second and third things they are looking for are the exit signs.  If you ever get your mind clear, how much are you going to commit to them?  In bad cases, how many escape fantasies — and worse! — do you get in your head?

 

Extend this dichotomy out into other major relationships in your life.  Your employer, your industry, your government…. Look how often people hate ‘work’, as if that were the natural state of it, and maybe it is!  People hate showing up and then their bosses wonder why their productivity is down!  And even dealing with this question is viewed negatively; it’s ‘touchy feely’ or ‘New Agey’ to actually respect what people do to make something succeed!

I wouldn’t mind letting my government borrow trillions more if I felt that they really will try to cut costs.  But I feel that they want to spend now….and spend later!  It’s no wonder they’ve lost the trust of a lot of people.

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If you are looking for work…

…the posts of Susannah Breslin’s over at Forbee’s have been, I think, informative and unconventional in their wisdom.  Here’s todays about applying for a job.

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I know what we will have to do is difficult.

Make no mistake, I am very aware that for some time to come things will be difficult for many of us.  The economy and the culture will be changing, changing in ways we are unsure of, where we may be fearful for what will come.  Perhaps I am foolish enough to be American enough to feel and think that we not merely endure but succeed, succeed in ways we don’t yet comprehend.  And again, foolish enough to believe in this success for myself and others going through this long period of change.

The other day I was fumbling for a Nietzsche quote in my head, and after throwing out a few bad New Yorker articles, Adam Sandler movies, and more posts, tweets and emails that I can’t believe I wrote, I found it, buried in my heart almost 40 years ago.  Nietzsche is talking about God, but substitute “work” for the Lord:

 

The background of our cheerfulness.  The greatest recent event — that “God is dead,” that the belief in the Christian God has ceased to be believable — is even now beginning to cast its first shadows over Europe.For the few at least, whose eyes, whose suspicion in their eyes is strong and sensitive enough for that spectacle, some sun seems to have set just now…. In the main, however, this may be said:  the event itself is much too great, too distant, too far from the comprehension of the many even for the tidings of it to be thought of as having arrived yet, not to speak of the notion that many people might know what has really happened here, and what must collapse now that this belief has been undermined — all that was built upon it, leaned on it, grew into it; for example, our whole European morality…

Even we born guessers of riddles who are, as it were, waiting on the mountains, put there between today and tomorrow, and stretched in the contradiction between today and tomorrow, we firstlings and premature births of the coming century,  to whom the shadows that must soon envelop Europe really should have appeared by now — why is it that even we look forward to it without any real compassion for this darkening, and above all without any worry and fear for ourselves?  Is it perhaps that we are still too deeply impressed by the first consequences of this event — and these first consequences, the consequences for us, are perhaps the reverse of what one might expect: not at all sad and dark, but rather like a new, scarcely describable kind of light, happiness, relief, exhilaration, encouragement, dawn?  Indeed, we philosophers and “free spirits” feel as if a new dawn were shining on us when we receive the tidings that “the old god is dead”; our heart overflows with gratitude, amazement, anticipation, expectation.  At last the horizon appears free again to us, even granted that it is not bright;  at last our ships may venture out again, venture out to face any danger; all the daring of the lover of knowledge is permitted again; the sea, our sea, lies open again; perhaps there has never been such an “open sea.”

— The Gay Science, Book V, aphorism 343

 

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Druthers

I wasn’t quite feeling well, (and am still a bit queezy) so I haven’t put up some other things I’m writing.  But something wj said the other day stuck with me:

Once you have adequate income, how much do you care about “employment”?

This prompts a question for readers:  What would you choose to do if you didn’t have to work?   Nothing?  What you are doing now?  Let’s call this the “I won the lottery” question, leaving aside what you would do with the money.  I’m interested in what you would do, not what you would buy!  This is going to tie into something I’m thinking of when we talk about work itself.

 

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“Weaving the electronic quilt”

I’m a baseball person.  I love the game, and I love how the game has built a ‘language’ out of it’s statistics.  Back when the earth was still cooling, and dinosaurs roamed various outfields, that is to say the ’80’s,  the only source for stats came from the Elias Sports Bureau, often through the pages of The Sporting News.  But for fans who wanted access to stats…let’s just say it wasn’t cheap or easy.  So people started building a data base of games and plays of what was current being played.   But people wanted to apply the same thing to games before 1984, and they did in Project Retrosheet.   I worked on this for many years entering over 4,000 games from old scoresheets, newspaper accounts… you name it.  We did this for nothing, and all the data was free as well.  I’ve always called this ‘weaving the electronic quilt’, building the knowledge base that others will do research from.  And that effort continues to this day.

I now see this effort as not just a charity, but a pointer to what we will all do eventually….create!  Amba sent me this interesting link which takes my older idea even further.  Creation is not just making the Mona Lisa; it’s building all the little connections, knowledge, and tools that are now what people want.  We are just at the beginning of how to ‘monitize’ this creativity; I suspect these early forms will give way to more sophisticated and complex ones.

 

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An EOW Question for the reader of this blog

A personal question on day 2!

 

Think of the work you have done in your life.  How does it compare to the work that your parents did?  Your grandparents?  How many of you are doing work that your parents either couldn’t have done at all (because the job you do now didn’t even exist in your parents) or is substantively different than how they did it they wouldn’t recognize what you do as like “their” work?

I started as a computer programmer a job that barely existed when I was born, and didn’t exist at all in my father’s time.

In a related vein, how much of the work that we do now existed in a similar fashion for our parents, but in a social context that would not have been possible for the older generation?  Women are the most obvious example here, but what others are there?

 

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It’s hard to own up to…but it’s gone and it’s not coming back.

You see a lot of pining nowadays for the glorious days of full employment.  I get it.  Believe me, I really get it!  But it’s not coming back….ever.  You can only be the 1940’s roughly 70 years ago, and a lot of cliches about water have gone under cliched bridges since.  Let me stress two things though:  It wasn’t that hot back then (you’re a woman who wants to be a CEO and not a mom? Tough rocks for you!), but more importantly, we’re in the unbelievably great position of creating a whole new future, for ourselves, our children, the world.  Somewhere in my Nietzsche corpus he has a beautiful aphorism about “we” are in the most enviable position in history, even greater than the Greeks of Homer. (Nietzschean breathern help me out!)

 

Where ever we end up, we’ve got greater control of our fate than we realize.

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The End of Work….The Start of The Blog

It wasn’t that long ago that the task that occupied nearly all of us was agriculture.  Agriculture defined so many things related to human life….how we perceive time, culture, art… the list of things can, and has, filled many, many books.  But roughly 150 years ago, things began to change to the Industrial Era.  How we earned our living bore increasingly less relation to the farms of old and more towards the rhythm of the new factories.  But, today, we see the end of that manufacturing culture, at least in the West.  This is not to say that things won’t be manufactured any more than we have quit growing food!  But the way that these cultures consume the majority of human time will be radically different than we have been before.  We are a point of transition similar to that of the change from farming to manufacture, but we’re more conscious of that change than 100+ years ago…

So where ARE we going?  How are we going to make a ‘living’?    That’s the discussion I hope to have with you on this blog…

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